Working out to the benefit of your own body type can be difficult. Therefore, before you can taylor a workout for your body type, you must understand the types of bodies out there. The human body is broken down to three distinct body types:


Small-framed people, who have very little body fat – also known as the hard gainer, finding it hard to put any weight on. Ectomorph is also known to have a fast metabolism, small joints and long limbs. The straight look.



This is the bigger build body type, who finds it hard to lose weight and tends to store more body fat than any other body type. Also have wider and bigger joints with shorter limbs, usually being small and round in appearance. Known as the hourglass figure.


Are the naturally athletic looking types that have wider shoulders and gain muscle mass easily. They respond better to resistance training than any other body type making them lean in and strong in appearance. Known as the athletic look.

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What does it mean?

Even though we have three body types, this doesn’t mean that an individual, for example, is just an Ectomorph body type from top to toe. For example: we have all heard of the pear shaped figure with wider hips and legs and adding weight in this area more so than the upper body. This is an example of an Endomorph body type on the bottom half and with the top being an ectomorph. Or if you tend to place muscle definition quicker around your, stomach, shoulders, arms and back, rather than your lower body, you’re most likely to be a Mesomorph on your top half.

You can of course have the traits of a Mesomorph on your bottom half of your body if your legs, buttocks and thighs tone easily building muscle mass quicker and have no trouble shifting weight. This also applies to the bottom half of your body. If you have a straight down frame which finds it harder to place weight on the legs, (the stick leg look), you are an Ectomorph.

Of course you can belong to one body type and be just an Ectomorph and be slim from top to bottom finding it hard to gain weight at all around the body. This also applies to the two other body types mentioned and their traits, however training your body type accordingly can compliment your shape more if applied correctly.

Though we have different body types, were we store fat on our body is also an indication of any stress related to oestrogen imbalance that can impact on the body.

If you’re likely to gain weight easier around the stomach area, your sides (also known as your love handles) and lower back, this is an indication of higher levels of cortisol (the adrenalin hormone related to stress) than the body should have. Did you know that taking up boxing is a great way for releasing endorphins (the feel good chemical from the brain). These can reduce the levels of cortisol in you. Or if you’re the opposite and gain weight easily on the top half of your legs, thighs and buttocks is an indication of imbalance oestrogen levels.

Moods swings are also another indication of oestrogen imbalance that worsens for some women during their monthly cycle. To lower these levels is straightforward by upping your intake of green vegetables like; broccoli, asparagus and spinach will assist in lowering the levels and balancing your oestrogen.

Exercise and a healthy diet are always encouraged, whether it’s from the media highlighting the latest celeb diet (which the majority of people will embark on in hope they will achieve  the same speedy results as the celebrity. Then there’s the latest fad of exercises hitting the gyms designed to make you sweat, this they do but you might still not be getting the results you want.

And then there are the dreaded fad diets, that make you lose weight quickly only to regain the weight just as fast with more pounds than you started with! And they do not compliment any body type in the long run!

If your nutrition is bad then you won’t get great results regardless of body type and all the sweating you do in the gym. So if you’re the kind of person who spends endless hours toiling in the gym and eats several chocolate bars a day, forget it you will still look the same unless you are an Ectomorph body type from head to toe who finds its hard to gain weight. Eating badly and consuming sugars can have serious impact even on the Ectomorph body. From rotten teth to type 2 diabetes – Ectomorph might not  gain weight but can suffer other ways.

So why is it that you can go to the gym and exercise regularly at home yet youre not reaping the results you desire in the long run?

Most likely it is because you are not exercising according to your body type. In most cases people will undergo endless cardio sessions throughout the week and sweat like mad and still in a few months look the same.

Incorporating too much cardio in ones fitness regime, for any body type, will result in no muscle mass leading to (looseness in the skin), as well as brittle bone that later develops into osteoporosis. Even though cardio is great for working the heart and for that reason it still should be included in ones fitness regime alongside resistance training, circuit and yoga (or yoga-type activities) but its all about how you mix it up and training according to your body type.

Exercises for different body typesEctomorphs

Ectomorphs should focus their efforts on a heavy compound exercise (engaging more than one joint at a time) with less focus on isolated exercises- (placing an emphasis on a single joint movement, a perfect example is doing a bicep curl). Instead sessions should include:


– Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, standing with a bar a couple of inches in front of your shins;

– Squat down keeping the back straight, although lean forward from the hips;

– Grip the bar with the palms facing backwards, at the outside of each knee;

– Before you start to lift, ensure your lower back is arched and you are holding your chest up  high and looking straight ahead;

– Keep your arms straight as you push up using your legs;

– Do not pull using your arms or back;

This exercise works: back, glutes and quads. Also works upper and lower back.

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– Feet shoulder width apart;

– Weight comes down through heels;

– Hip drive backwards during first part of movement;

– Maintain a neutral spine;

– Knees don’t come any further forward than toes and maintain a single plane, don’t move in or out;

– Depth – aim for 90 degrees but top quads parallel to floor as long as neutral spine maintained;

This exercise works: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals + core/back.

Bent Over Row

– Position yourself with a wide stance, knees bent and hips flexed forward;

– Hold the barbell with straight arms, at around knee level with the hands just wider than your knees on the bar and pronated- (palms facing down);

– Keep the back still as you pull the bar in towards your stomach;

– Return the bar back to the starting position, maintaining control throughout exercise;

– This exercise works: rhomboids, trapezius and biceps brachii being the mid and upward of the back.


– Sit with back to a bench/chair or staircase-step;

– Place your hands on the bench so your fingers are pointing to you;

– Lift your buttocks off the ground and straighten your legs so only your heels are on the floor;

– Push back up until your elbows are straight;

– This exercise can be performed with feet raised up on another chair or bench to increase the difficulty;

This exercise works: triceps brachii and the pectoralis major.

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Bench Press

– Lay on your back on a bench with feet planted on the floor;

– Grip the bar approximately 2 feet apart (or at a comfortable point, wider than shoulder width) with arms straight above chest

– Slowly and under control, lower the bar down to the level of your chest;

– Push the bar back on contact with the bench at all times;

– Natural spine arch maintained throughout;

This exercise works: Pectoalis Major, Pectoralis Minor, anterior deltoid and triceps.

Shoulder Press

– Standing with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent stabilizing the bottom half of your body;

– Hold each dumbbell and raise them to head height, the elbows out at about 90 degrees. This will be your starting position;

– Maintain strict technique with no leg drive or leaning back, instead extend through the elbow to raise the weights together directly above your head.

– Pause and slowly return the weight to starting position;

– This can also be performed one arm at a time, great for building muscle mass after a injury to the shoulder area;

This exercise works: Anterior Deltoid, triceps and trapezius.

Although programmes such as 10×10 and 5×5 work great for the other body types, the Ectomorph responds better to a pyramid of reps instead of a constant rep scheme.

The reason is two-fold:

1. The ectomorph can’t handle too much stress and staying in one rep range for too long will overwork that particular motor unit. Pyramid training allows the trainee to briefly tap into increasingly larger motor units from set to set without overworking them.

2. The Ectomorph is still a newbie. The fact that he is still skinny means he is still at a young “training age” regardless of his chronological age. He needs to practice and warm up on the movement with higher reps before tackling heavier and heavier weight. And the Ectomorph definitely needs to tackle the heavier weights in order to gain size, but can keep them low if this is not their target.

Cardio should be implemented into your fitness regime with this body type and all body types.Our hearts needs to be worked out as well! For the Ectomorph keep your cardio session no more than 30minutes 2 times a week. If you enjoy participating in classes at your local gym, stick with a spin class, bike/cycling outdoors or the cross trainer are your better options as well as Pilates and Yoga combined with stretching.

As this body types finds it hard to gain weight, as it naturally possesses a fast metabolism, therefore 5-8 meals can be spread throughout the day. Yes this means portions are fairly irrelevant and this body type has less need to count calories. Don’t be afraid on eating carbs. Stick to starchy, unprocessed, whole grain carbs which will help you feel and look your best. Opt for sweet potatoes over white bread for best results.

Proteins should also be included. If you are a vegetarian this can be achieved by eating nuts, spinach, chick peas, tofu or, if you eat meat, combine your red and white meat intake – even better to stick with white meat.

Eating protein before bed keeps your body topped up with fuel for overnight recovery and remains in an anabolic state- (better growth and maintenance to the body), also include healthy fats such as fish, avocado and nuts.


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